Vanished - marks of a struggle at scene where 'gangland' abduction took place
Signs of a struggle and crash mark the spot where father-of-three Richard O'Donovan was abducted.
It's now believed that the kidnappers orchestrated the collision in order to abduct the 31-year-old man in broad daylight yesterday afternoon.
This morning, marks on the kerb from where a vehicle mounted and skid marks in the grass pointed to the incident which saw Mr O'Donovan snatched in an apparent gangland ambush.
A major garda search operation was continuing today as detectives feared they were in a "race against time"
Gardai said they were extremely concerned for the safety of Richard O'Donovan (31), who was snatched by a group of men in broad daylight.
The abduction happened in the Swiftbrook Glen Estate in Virginia, Co Cavan, at around 3.30pm yesterday.
A silver BMW X5 SUV collided with the missing man's blue/grey BMW 3 series car at the entrance to the estate, in what sources described as a "well-planned" operation.
Gardai now believe this collision was 'staged' by the gang in order to kidnap Mr O'Donovan.
Detectives conducted a number of interviews last night - and were expected to carry out a number of detailed interviews throughout today.
A further appeal - with a photograph of Mr O'Donovan - is expected to be made later today.
It is believed that Mr O'Donovan has fallen foul of a criminal gang - although detectives do not believe there is a subversive or foreign element involved.
Yesterday afternoon, a number of men jumped out of the 4x4 and dragged Mr O'Donovan from behind the steering wheel, before giving him what was described as "a severe beating".
He was then bundled into the SUV, which drove away at speed.
Local residents, who witnessed the abduction, made a 999 call and alerted the gardai.
Garda sources confirmed that they believe the missing man was the victim of a gangland attack and that his abductors may intend to seriously harm him.
A source told the Irish Independent: "This is an extremely urgent situation and we are very concerned for the safety of Richard O'Donovan.
"This is a race against time to find him."
Gardai believe he may have fallen foul of a gang involved in serious crime in the West and across the midlands counties, as well as into the border region.
A senior officer said last night they were seriously concerned for Mr O'Donovan's safety as there had been no sightings of him or the vehicle since the incident.
There had been no ransom demands or phone contact from his kidnappers either, he added.
Gardai are worried that Mr O'Donovan may have clashed with associates of a major gang in recent weeks and had been targeted as a result.
It is understood that the BMW SUV, with the registration number 03 MN, is suspected of being used in a number of serious crimes in the past.
The kidnapped man is originally from Navan but had been living for the past few years with a partner in Mullagh, Co Cavan.
More recently he had been staying in Virginia and was well known in the community.
Last night gardai in Dublin and across the north east were searching for the missing man.
They issued an urgent appeal for the public's help in locating Mr O'Donovan before he suffers any further harm.
The Swiftbrook Glen Estate is a relatively new estate, and largely home to young families and retired couples.
A local resident said: "There was a lot of commotion during the afternoon – the local children were quite scared. It was like something out of 'Love/Hate'." Officers at Bailieboro garda station want to hear from anyone who witnessed the abduction or have seen or know the whereabouts of the silver BMW X5, especially in the area of Virginia yesterday afternoon.
Anyone with information has been asked to contact Bailieboro station on 042 9694570, the confidential phone line or any garda station.
By Tom Brady and Paul Williams